City plans to market AVI, explain homestead exemptions

A key complaint from critics of Mayor Nutter’s property tax plan is that the public does not understand how they will be impacted by the proposed move to a system based on market values.

But city officials today said they are planning two public information campaigns in the near future – one to explain the plan, known as the Actual Value Initiative, and the other to let people know how to apply for a homestead exemption to lower their assessment.

Of course, AVI – which would change the way property taxes are levied, as well as potentially bring in $94 million in additional revenue for school - remains very much up in the air. City Council hasn’t signed off on the plan and neither has the state, which must approve a shift in millage rates as well as grant permission for the city to offer a homestead exemption. So there are more questions than answers at this point.

Still, the firm Eightegrity has been hired to design brochures explaining the homestead exemption program that will be sent to all homeowners in June. The firm, which is being paid between $21,000 and $30,000, will also provide oversight for online materials and posters and other promotions, said Anna Wallace Adams, chief of staff to the finance director. Adams said the city was proceeding with the assumption that a homestead exemption will be available.

Also this summer, the city plans to launch a bigger marketing campaign to explain AVI, as well as some of the protections that are available to more vulnerable homeowners. The city hopes to put out a request for proposals next week to hire a firm to help that communications effort, Adams said. She said the amount of the contract had not been determined.

Given the confusion already over AVI, PhillyClout questioned whether the city may have wanted to start this earlier. But Finance Director Rob Dubow said they didn’t want to put out information until it was clear what shape the proposal takes.